For patients facing cancer, their first chance is their best chance, and that means considering all options at the time of diagnosis, including clinical trials. But often patients may not know clinical trials are an option. Or in some cases, being referred for trials after multiple treatments have failed, can disqualify patients from eligibility.
A lack of information and commonly held beliefs or myths about trials are two of the biggest barriers to enrollment. Physicians have the potential to make a significant impact on their patient’s outcome by discussing and evaluating patients for trials at the time of diagnosis.
Here’s what you should know about clinical trials at Moffitt to ensure eligible patients have access to what can often be life-saving treatments:
1: Patients Are Interested in Trials
Patients want to know about clinical trials they may be eligible for, and 70% of Americans are very willing to participate in cancer clinical trials. With just 5% of eligible adult cancer patients currently participating in clinical trials, it’s clear there’s opportunity to educate more patients.
2: Not Enough Patients Know About Clinical Trials
The opportunity to identify patients who are eligible can happen in the primary care provider’s office. The National Cancer Institute found that, in a survey of 706 PCPs, 98% referred their patients to cancer specialists without discussing clinical trials. Of those respondents, 37% were unaware that clinical trials were an option for their patients, highlighting an important missed opportunity to improve participation.
Additionally, as many as 65% of cancer patients may not be evaluated for clinical trials according to US-based oncologists’ responses to Carebox and Inspirata’s ongoing benchmarking survey. So there’s room to improve both discussions of clinical trial eligibility and evaluation of patients, even before oncology referral. Moffitt’s robust trial portfolio and advanced search and matching technology can help identify opportunities quickly and get the pre-screen process started.
3: Clinical Trials Aren’t a Last Resort
There’s a common misconception that clinical trials are a last resort. While patients who have been receiving cancer treatment for some time can be eligible for clinical trials, they can also be for patients just starting cancer treatment or who have just been diagnosed. In some cases, referring a patient to clinical trials after many treatments have failed can disqualify them, so viewing trials as a potential option at the time of diagnosis is crucial to personalize care.
4: Clinical Trials Advance Treatments and Improve Outcomes
When the clinical trial system has higher rates of enrollment, researchers can advance treatments at a faster rate, corresponding with improvements in outcomes for cancer populations. When viewed this way, increasing enrollment and participation is critical.
In a study of data from over 624 randomized clinical cancer trials, 30% of trials had statistically significant results. Of this 30%, new interventions were superior to established treatments 80% of the time.
"With continued participation in clinical trials, it is exciting to see improved survival in patients who often have more aggressive disease. We must continue to learn from these studies and develop personalized approaches so that we can select the optimal therapy for each patient."- Hatem Soliman, MD, medical director of the Clinical Trials Office, Moffitt Cancer Center
5: Clinical Trial Patients Are Fully Informed
Patient safety and well-being are of the utmost importance when participating in clinical trials. The informed consent process, along with regulations from Institutional Review Boards (IRB), the FDA, and Scientific Review Committees (SRC) ensure patients are aware and protected every step of the way.
6: Moffitt Provides Full Patient Support
When patients are referred to Moffitt for clinical trial participation, they are fully supported by Moffitt’s social work staff to help with social, logistical, and financial challenges. Through partnerships with charitable groups, Moffitt social workers can arrange financial, lodging, and transportation support. They can also help coordinate home care needs or ensure the emotional support patients and caregivers may need.
7: Diversity Matters
Minority patients are underrepresented in trials, whether due to distrust of the medical community or lack of awareness around clinical trials. Less than 10% of enrolled cancer clinical trial patients are racial or ethnic minorities, but increasing diversity in clinical trials is crucial to ensuring minority populations also benefit from access to these potentially life-saving treatments and for findings apply to a broader population. Breaking down barriers and increasing access to care for minority patients is a priority for Moffitt.
8: Moffitt Can Help Match Patients With the Right Trial
Pairing cancer patients with the right clinical trials can be a challenge due to unstructured patient eligibility criteria, but Moffitt partners with Carebox to more seamlessly connect patients’ genomic and clinical profiles with the right trials using transformational matching technology.
Using AI, we also have ways to review patients' medical records, including molecular data, to look for all possible matches for each patient’s personalized criteria.
"Now that we are doing personalized medicine I think people are more prone to listen and realize, okay, they are making a medication specifically for me. That opens the window of opportunity so hopefully, we will see an increase in recruitment."- Viviam Sifontes, Trials and Navigation Educator
Referring Patients to Increase the Impact of Clinical Trials
Moffitt boasts an extensive trial portfolio of more than 600 active interventional clinical trials at any given time, but the impact of these trial outcomes is limited by the number of patients enrolled.
Innovative clinical trials can become routine treatment, but referrals and participation at various stages are critical. Clinical trials give patients access to the most cutting-edge advances in cancer treatment that aren’t yet widely available, giving them more options, better outcomes, and optimism for the future.
Consider clinical trials as an option for your patients at the point of diagnosis, and refer them to Moffitt to ensure they have the best chance of treating and beating their cancer. To learn more about clinical trials, call 813-745-6100 or 1-800-679-0775 (toll-free), submit a clinical trials inquiry form, or subscribe to receive email notifications about ongoing trials.